Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Israel Building Longest Landing Strip in Middle East

Longest airstrip in Middle East

(IsraelNN.com) The Israel Air Force has been quietly transforming its Nevatim base*, a standard air force installation, into a Middle East wonder of the military world.

The plan to expand and upgrade the base into a massive complex designed to house various operational buildings as well as thousands of IAF personnel is well underway, with construction of the new base almost complete.

But the real centerpiece of the improved Negev-based IAF complex is its new landing strip, a whopping 2.5-mile paved highway on which the largest transport aircraft can land. It will be the largest landing strip in the entire Middle East.

The development is part of a master plan by the IDF to move the majority of IAF bases south to the Negev, said Colonel Tzvi Tweezer, administrator of the Nevatim base in an article posted on the IAF website. “The transfer of the Air Force to the south is part of a great plan being put into action by the IDF,” he said. “This particular stage is paramount to the success of that greater plan, which includes the upcoming ‘training base city’ project.” Tweezer added that the expanded base would also provide jobs for hundreds of people in a region which is known for its lower-than-average salaries and high unemployment.

The article also pointed out that such a mammoth operation requires development of improved infrastructure in the area. “This will include constructing transportation systems, education facilities, places of employment and housing. As part of the improvement of the infrastructure in the region, a train station will be built at the gates of the base… vital roads will be built ahead of schedule by the IAF and a gas-powered electricity station will be built to produce energy for the region,” he said.
The amount of asphalt used to pave the new landing strip was about the same amount used to pave a 56-mile-long two-lane highway.

The base is expected to stretch across an area equivalent to the total size of Tel Aviv-Jaffa and will include a new air traffic control tower, underground hangars and housing for at least 2,000 soldiers. Some 900 workers were hired to build the new base, with more than half of them local Negev residents. The project, which also involved relocation of IDF training units, Intelligence Corps and Teleprocessing Units, is expected to cost a total of approximately $658 million.

The new Nevatim base is slated to make its debut by 2009.
(See also YNET here)

*Nevatim Airbase:
(Canaf 28). Originally built as a rough strip for the Sherut Avir in 1947. Formerly known as Malhata. New airbase planned and built by Israel with US funding, opened October 1983. Located south east of Beersheba. ICAO code: LLNV. Location coordinates: N31 12 E035 00, elevation: 1312 ft (400 m). Two runways: 08/26 degrees of 10007 ft (3050 m) length and 08/26 degrees of 8005 ft (2440 m) length. Currently home to 104, 115, 116, 132 and 251 squadrons.


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